Sunderland restaurant will breathe new life into derelict city centre site

Owners Kam Chera and Sunil Karur
Owners Kam Chera and Sunil Karur
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A derelict city centre restaurant will be brought back to life when an established business moves venues.

The Funky Indian will open in the former Cosa Nostra site next month after the Borough Road venue has stood derelict for five years.

The Funky Indian tapas restaurant in Tavistock Place, Sunderland.

The Funky Indian tapas restaurant in Tavistock Place, Sunderland.

Since it opened in nearby Tavistock Place at the end of 2014, The Funky Indian has proved popular with diners thanks to its Indian tapas dishes.

But city businessman Kam Chera hopes the move to a bigger, more visible, site will bring in even more custom.

“I’ve had my eye on this site for a while,” he explained. “When I opened Funky Indian, I knew it wasn’t a great location. The feedback we’ve had from our customers is that, though they love the food, they didn’t feel safe in the area that we were.

“We have to listen to what our customers want and though this is only 200 yards away, it feels like we’re more in the city centre. It’s a larger site and more contemporary, we feel like this is a place people will want to be seen in. Long-term, it’s the right fit for us.”

Kam’s imported Indian rickshaws and fabrics to decorate the new site, which will run as an 80-seater restaurant downstairs and a bar upstairs when it is due to open on April 6.

Speaking about renovation work, which has taken place over the last six months, he said: “It has just stood empty for five years, so there was damp and electrical problems, but the general infrastructure is in place.”

Food-wise, the general menu will be the same, with a couple of new additions and a dedicated curry section, which customers have asked for.

The new Funky Indian will also feature an Indian stall where, in the coming months, customers can buy spices and fabrics.

A number of new restaurants have opened in the city centre in recent months and Kam think’s it’s all helping to boost the night-time economy.

“You can feel the energy and passion in the city at the minute,” he said. “There’s a lot of inward investment and it’s creating a buzz. There’s so much happening with the Tall Ships, concerts and the City of Culture bid, it all helps to create momentum.”

The business’s social enterprise arm, Stars on Earth, will remain at the former site.

Over the past months, the programme has worked with scores of children from Portland and Barbara Priestman Schools to give children with learning difficulties experience in the front-of-house trade.

Kam said: “Star on Earth has been very successful and is something we want to continue. One of the success stories is Patrick Wilson, who has autism, who we have now taken on as an apprentice. He’s part of the family now.”